Women’s history depicts a continuous battle for equality. From the beginning women have fought for their right to be considered equal to men. With time, women’s rights evolved, including the right to play sports. Although many discrepancies between the opportunities for men and the opportunities for women in athletics still exists. Due to the fact that male sports receiving majority of funding, males have more media exposure and finally, women are stuck with many stereotypes, it is only natural that male athletics still dominate the global sports market.
Woman’s funding in college and in professional sports is noticeably unequal compared to sports played by men. Although both playing the same sport, men are paid more than females causing them to have less motivation in following their dreams of playing that sport. In the National Basketball Association the highest salary is more than 27 million dollars, whereas, the maximum a WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) player can make is approximately 30 thousand dollars. This salary is less than the least talented male basketball players. An athlete’s salary reflects on how the world will view them.
If female salaries are a lot lower, it will make it difficult for them to be accepted. Overall, “[women] are routinely given the least convenient practice times, the worst facilities and equipment, the least experienced teachers, trainers, and coaches, and less funding and sponsorship. ” (Hall, 293) Because of the fact that recreation organizations, who were dependent on public facility funds, could no longer sustain the argument that they had no moral or legal obligation to provide equal opportunities to both sexes, the Canadian women’s cross-country ski team sold calendars featuring nude pictures of themselves to raise funds for their team.
That’s just one of many females that have done things along the same lines because of the lack of money they were receiving. Overall it is extremely evident that there is a clear lack of recreation programs, facilities, training opportunities and prize money for women in the sport world, causing women to become discouraged from sports. In our society today, we are constantly flooded with images and messages from the media. It is these images and messages that shape us as a society by effecting ones perspective and belief on various topics.
Athletics is one of these topics. Boys grow up with the media bombarding them with images about “masculinity”, playing sports and all the accomplishments they can achieve through sports. While on the other hand, girls are not privy to the accomplishments they can achieve through sports. Instead the media shows that a typical woman’s daily activities involve being at home, cleaning, cooking, and caring for the children, not on a playing field. For this reason, women who participated in sports were frowned upon.
Although “exposure of female athletes improves during the Olympic Games and World Cup soccer, these are the only rare occurrences, at all other times of the year girls receive negative or inconsistent messages from sports television. ” (Lopiano, 1) and their games are televised 10-20 times less than their male counterparts. The public also very rarely reads about women in sport. In fact, “today, over most daily papers, devotes between 15 and 20% of its sports pages to women,” nowhere near a fair share for both men and women.
Furthermore, when females are present in the media, what we hear or see is strictly focused on physical attractiveness and not their talent or achievements. This can be seen with female tennis player Anna Kournikova, who has yet to win a professional tennis tournament, and still managed to be one of only six women to be ranked one of the most important people in sports. In the sharp contrast of the media coverage given to males, female athletes are belittled and devalued because their achievements go unacknowledged, making it seem like they are not important, or that the only thing they are good at is “looking good” while playing a sport.
Women have the stereotype that they are weak and fragile, thus people believe they should remain in their high heels, full skirts with their tiny wastes and flawless hair. Such ideals lay far removed from the heated sweaty competitions in sports. Michele Hall, a freshman on the Howard University track team, believes these stereotypes exist because many of the sports women athletes play are considered a “man’s game. For example, hockey, which requires you to be aggressive, is seen as a man’s sport because that it not a quality that females usually have. This leads to the conclusion that “athleticism and femininity are seen as incompatible” (Hall, 167) Female athletes who don’t exude feminine qualities are labelled instantly as “butch,” men or lesbians. These athletes are given these labels because women are expected to be thin and clean, and due to female athlete’s size, body type and muscular development, they are frowned upon.
Women athletes assumed to be lesbian is dramatically common because by participating in the allegedly male world of sports, women have crossed over the “gender role lines”. Traditional expectations for femininity do not include such traits such as aggressiveness, independence, and tough-mindedness; these qualities of a successful athletic performance fall under the definition of masculinity and if portrayed by females are seen as different from the “norm” and not accepted.
Although, it is evident that inequality exists in the funding amounts, the media’s influence, and the stereotypes, women should still play a sport if she loves the game. It is important for women to realize that, “if [women] do no define [them]selves, [they] will be defined by others. ” Women around the world should celebrate and be proud of their achievements because together women have earned a spot in the athletic world, despite any discrepancies or stereotypes given to them by the media and our society.